- Ashley Porter
Chicken Nuggets - Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, & Nut-Free
Chicken nuggets are one of those classic kid foods that just about every child seems to love, and parents love them too, if we are being honest. It’s such a quick and easy meal to get on the table when all you have to do is throw them in the microwave or oven for a few minutes. Before we learned that wheat was added to Hudson’s list of allergens, I used to buy a big bag of nuggets and stick them in the freezer for crazy days when I just needed to get food in his belly quickly.
I eventually found safe chicken nuggets at Aldi that were semi-affordable, but the last time we took a trip out there to stock up, they were out. When I told Hudson that they didn’t have any, he told me it was ok because we can make them at home. I mean, he’s right. We can. They had been on my recipe testing to-do list for a long time, but I was a little intimidated to try them without the egg. Plus, breading things, in general, has not been my strong point in the kitchen.
The next day I decided to give them a try. I thawed the pre-cut frozen chicken breasts that I found at Costco (which are amazing, by the way) so it took out an entire step of having to trim the chicken breasts. I set up my breading station and went to work. To my surprise, they worked and tasted amazing! There is nothing more exciting than when a recipe works out the first time. And, when they look like the “real” thing, it’s even better!
I also tried these as chicken tenders and they worked just as perfectly. They took a bit longer to cook because they were larger than the nuggets, but there were much fewer to fry so it still went pretty quickly. I used a 3 quart pot and filled it a little more than half-way with oil. If you’re only doing a couple chicken breasts you can probably use a little less oil, but don’t use too little because the chicken won’t have enough room to fry and cook through.
A couple of frying tips that I learned during my years auditing restaurants:
Use a candy thermometer if you have one and leave it in the oil - it makes managing the oil temperature so much easier!
Optimal frying temperature is usually around 350 degrees.
As soon as you put food into the fryer, the temperature of the oil will drop a little, so I start frying when the oil temperature is just over 350 degrees.
Do not put too many nuggets or tenders in the oil at a time. It lowers the temperature too much and the chicken will not cook through.
Remember to cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. You can get a very affordable thermometer to use when cooking raw meats almost anywhere. If the temperature is too high, the outside breading can burn and get dark before the inside of the chicken is fully-cooked through.
You have to try these - don’t be scared of the breading and frying! It really isn’t hard at all. It is a little more time consuming than an everyday dinner because you have to bread and fry them, but if you’re going to make them, I would suggest doubling or tripling the recipe so you can have a freezer stash ready to go. I served mine with ketchup, but they would be great with this chipotle mayo sauce too!
3 large chicken breasts
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 ½ cups gluten-free flour
1 cup gluten free panko
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups milk (I have used oat and coconut milk, but any plant-based or cow milk will work)
5-7 cups oil (I used canola and grape seed, but any oil with a high smoke point will work)
Warm oil in pot over medium heat until thermometer reads 350-360 degrees.
1. Set up breading station. I used deep plates or shallow bowls to bread the chicken and a bowl for the milk. You will need two containers for the breading and one for the milk. The order of breading will be milk, gluten-free flour, milk, panko/garbanzo bean flour breading.
2. Mix garbanzo bean flour, gluten-free flour, paprika, salt, ground mustard, baking soda, and garlic powder together and place in a bowl or on a plate.
3. Place gluten-free flour in a separate bowl or plate.
4. Pour milk into a separate bowl.
5. Cut chicken into tenders or small nuggets.
6. Dip chicken into the milk and let excess drip off, then place into the gluten-free flour and cover all sides of chicken. Dip chicken back into the milk one more time and allow excess to drip off again before placing in the panko/garbanzo bean flour breading. Ensure all sides of the chicken are fully covered. It helps to keep one hand dry for the breading and one hand wet for the milk.
7. Slowly drop breaded chicken into hot oil for 3-6 minutes, depending on how large the chicken pieces are. If the chicken is larger, it may require more than 6 minutes in the oil. When the breading begins to look golden brown, take an internal temperature of the chicken and remove to paper-towel lined plate or cooling rack when thermometer reads 165 degrees or more.
8. Serve immediately or cool and freeze.
1. For more detailed frying tips scroll up in this post.
2. If the breading is burning before the chicken is cooked, lower the oil temperature before resuming cooking.
3. If freezing, freeze in a single layer without them touching first (a baking sheet is great for this) and then store them in a container or zip-top bag.
4. I have found garbanzo bean flour on Amazon, which is where I get it, Sprouts, and Whole Foods. A quick Google search should show you where you can find it in your area if you don't prefer to get it on Amazon.
5. I tried making these in the oven and in the air-fryer and they did not turn out as well, both in flavor and appearance. I lost quite a bit of breading to the racks with both of these methods, even with using non-stick spray. I recommend sticking to the frying method with these.